Posted by News Express | 22 June 2019 | 736 times
For Nigeria, it is a day of double football action, with the county’s senior national teams – male and female – being called to action on foreign lands.
While the Super Eagles will be taking on rookies Burundi in their opening Group B match of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) opener against rookies Burundi, the Super Falcons will file out against mighty Germany in the knock-out stage of the 2019 FIFA World Cup in France.
The Super Eagles match is set for the Alexandria Stadium, with kick-off at 19:00 CAT.
Nigeria have been absent from the last two editions of the AFCON, but under German manager Gernot Rohr they have secured a return to the top table of African football.
The Super Eagles finished top of Group E in the preliminaries (ahead of South Africa, Libya and the Seychelles) and enter the 2019 finals as one of the favourites for the title.
The West African heavyweights won their third Nations Cup title in their last appearance in 2013, though only veterans John Obi Mikel, Ahmed Musa and Kenneth Omeruo remain from that victorious squad.
Such is Nigeria’s strength that they have been able to leave out Kelechi Iheanacho due to relative lack of game time at his club Leicester City, while Victor Moses was not even available after retiring from international football.
Their opponents Burundi are something of an unknown quantity at this level, with the 2019 AFCON marking their major tournament debut.
The Swallows secured qualification by finishing as runners-up to Mali in Group C of the preliminaries. The East Africans boast stars such as Gael Bigirimana and Saido Berahino, while they will also play in honour of the late Papy Faty, who passed away earlier this year.
In head-to-head stats, Nigeria and Burundi have met in just one previous match: an AFCON qualifier in January 1999 which the Super Eagles won 2-0 at home. The match was later annulled when Nigeria was awarded the hosting rights (alongside Ghana) for the 2000 finals and withdrew from the preliminaries.
Analysts expect victory for the Eagles but see the Falcons as having a mountain to climb against the more experienced Germans.
While Germany ranks among the favourites, Falcons had to wait till the end of the group games to learn that they had qualified as one of the best losers.
•Additional reports by African Football.
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